I was cleaning bottles and pump attachments in 2016 for the zillionth time. She was washing dishes. I was overtired, cranky, over-burdened with the minute annoying tasks of parenting a baby, completely unable to crack a smile at the time, she was being patient, wise, and non-judgemental.
Because that's who she was, even when it was really hard and people really sucked.
And as I finished what I was doing I said "ugh, I can't wait until this craziness is over, constantly pumping, washing, nursing, and around again." I had gone back to work right after my second little guy was born, and so much of any spare minute I had was filled with making sure he had lots of breast milk for when I wasn't around.
You get stuck, in that time of life, wishing the days would just pass quickly, because they are hard. There are little bits of fun or smiles in there, your kids are beautiful and tiny and amazing. But a lot of the time you are feeling gross because you haven't stepped foot in the shower in so so long, you lament having to do one more load of poop explosion laundry, and if you're parenting in between working hours with not much else going on in your life, you are probably emotionally, physically and spiritually spent. All. Of. The. Time. You probably look at the clock one million times to see if it's bed time yet. And if you are like me, you are constantly exasperated at everything when you're tired or drained and telling everyone to eat it.
But here is a little tidbit: you will never get any of those days back. Not one.
Now, I am not one of those people that likes to shove annoying melodrama down your throat, saying those old people lines and make you feel super guilty that you're not loving every minute. "They grow up so fast, dear, enjoy every minute with that newborn," or, "try to smile dear, they won't be babies for long." Are you kidding me? I certainly have HATED many moments of parenting and I've had no shame in admitting it. Where things seem impossible and the smallest tasks are overwhelming because of lack of energy, self-care, or otherwise.
But I am trying to be grateful for all of it, every day. Because after my complaint on that particular day, my mother-in-law, who was one of my most cherished friends, said: "don't wish your days away." She said it quietly, not with any judgement, just as a reminder.
And it stuck. It stuck because she had cancer, and her days were numbered. She died exactly three years ago today. At the time, I looked down at my hands, which weren't wrinkled yet, and I thought about my morning which by all accounts was pretty normal, and she stood there just listening to me and being nice, and allowing my complaint to roll off her despite her own circumstance.
"Don't wish your days away." We all have our issues, and have to respect one another for dealing with those. Some of us hide our traumas very well, some of us crave social interaction to fend off the bad feelings. But we are all living life. And we all need little reminders some times that this life really is it. You don't get to do it again.
I know that Linda wished she could have more time, more days, more moments whether they were bad or good. Just more. She taught me more about life and being a good friend and mom than I can ever share. I had her in my life for a little more than a decade, but in that time I got to know how even in the worst moments, humans can be resilient, helpful, compassionate, and put other people first. That's what she did. She fought cancer for so long but always was there for me. And I am forever grateful, as is my husband, so is our family.
And even when things are the absolute worst, I try really hard to not wish my days away. Because with the right attitude, even the worst times in life can be beautiful and very worst case, teach you an important lesson.
Thanks Linda, you have given me so much, but that piece of advice is probably the greatest gift. I carry it with me every day.